The science of LA Rams ILBs: Chemistry, physics, astronomy
The more I learn about the LA Rams inside linebacker combination of veteran Bobby Wagner with second-year linebacker Ernest Jones, the more I like it. Historically, the LA Rams had continued to pour their resources into other positions on defense for so long, that it had become second nature to formulate how the defense would win the day as a defensive donut.
The middle, where inside linebackers roamed, would be the hit-or-miss wildcard for the team and the defense. That sometimes proved to be a positive surprise when the inside linebackers had a good game. But when they were out of position, missed tackles, or simply were unable to make stops on third downs, we knew that it was going to be a long day.
Now? There is reason to believe that the LA Rams defense may have an altogether different feel this season. How so? Well, I don’t foresee myself white-knuckling as many third-down plays when the Rams defense is on the field. In fact, I may actually look forward to those occasions. Why?
The LA Rams, and all of the fans, learned that an accomplished veteran can make a huge difference on this roster. Last season, we were all pleasantly surprised at just how much of a positive impact veteran outside linebacker Von Miller had. Not only did he contribute to the team with his own performance, but he was a calming and stabilizing force for the locker room as well.
So what can we expect from the inside of the LA Rams defense this year? Well, the more I’d contemplated it, the more I reckon it to be The Big Bang Theory. So let’s assess the various scientific disciplines and discuss how each will result in a better Rams defense.
You cannot ignore the fact that the LA Rams have harnessed two of the most forceful ILBs in the team’s recent history. While Ernest Jones is only returning for his second season, he has clearly demonstrated that he can be a difference make in this defense. More than just a run stopper, he sees the entire football field and is already showing signs of defensive savviness to anticipate where and what the offense plans to do.
Now, place veteran Bobby Wagner alongside Jones, and you’ve doubled the force. Bobby Wagner does not sit back and guess. He diagnoses the play and arrives in the hole as the running back makes his way. That usually results in a tackle for little or no gain.
The chemistry of Ernest Jones and Bobby Wagner is already showing signs of being something special. Wagner is a veteran who knows that his role with the Rams team is more than producing on the football field. He is a hands-on mentor/coach for all of the team’s young linebackers. That role should not be underestimated.
Much like Miller in 2021, Wagner will not only help generate consistency out of younger players but will be a valuable sounding board to the team’s veterans as well. And it’s that ability to collaborate and troubleshoot on the fly that will truly be the value of having Bobby Wagner on the field.
Binary stars. Many solar systems in the universe are thought to be binary-star systems. While we are far more familiar with a solitary star system (as that is our solar system), astronomers estimate that 85 percent of the existing stars in the universe are part of a binary star system. Okay, so how does this relate to football?
Simply stated, the LA Rams’ pursuit of a second star at the inside linebacker position is more than just an addition. The inclusion of a second solid, perhaps even still elite, inside linebacker will allow the Rams’ defense to explore new ways to use the surplus talent at the position.
Will this mean A-gap blitzes? Will the Rams be less inclined to place a third safety onto the field? Will the Rams make greater use of their base 3-4 defense? With two stars on the field, there are fewer weak spots to cover.
Will the Rams’ defense be an automatic upgrade this season? Perhaps. But the science is sound. And by viewing the team from a scientific, rather than a statistical, view, we can already begin to view the many ways this new defensive configuration can benefit the team this season.